March 19, 2018 10:52 PM
The owner of a southern Minnesota group home that cares for people struggling with mental illness and chemical dependency has been charged with criminal abuse of one the home's patients.
The Le Sueur County prosecutor filed three criminal abuse charges against Paula Beulke, who owns and operates Sunrise Farms in Montgomery. All three charges are misdemeanors.
In the charges, Beulke is accused of neglect of a 37-year-old vulnerable man sent to the residential facility by the state after he completed treatment for addiction and spent time in prison.
The charges don't reveal the man's identity. His mother, who also doesn't want to be named, said Monday that there is more to the allegations than just abuse.
"While my son was living there in 2016, there was an ongoing affair with Paula," she said.
Her son claims the sexual encounters happened in the group home as well as at Beulke's home. In court documents, Beulke has denied the allegations. "I would never cross professional boundaries," she said, according to the documents.
When employees of the home discovered contraband in the patient's room, which was a violation of his probation, he was sent back to jail.
According to the charges, the relationship continued. Investigators said they gathered "voluminous" amounts of Facebook and text messages in which the two "profess love for one another." The charges cite nude photo's allegedly sent by Beulke and 400 phone calls traced to her, along with a reminder from Beulke to him to "delete everything."
The Department of Human Services, along with Le Sueur County authorities, were notified about the allegations in October 2017. By then a year had passed and investigators said they "couldn't substantiate sexual abuse, but that neglect had occured."
The three criminal abuse charges are misdemeanors. If convicted, Beulke would face three years in prison. However, the patient's mother has urged prosecutors to add charges to include sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult.
"She had the authority over him, it really shouldn't be a question about whether he was capable or not," the man's mother said. "She had all the power. We need to be able to trust the places people go to get help. Those people should be held responsible."
Beulke will appear in court next month.
Updated: March 19, 2018 10:52 PM
Created: March 19, 2018 09:55 PM
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